Incompetent AFCS

I am looking for some advice on my current AFCS ongoing claim.

I injured by back re-supplying troops with ECM in Helmand as a CQMS in October 2010 and was discharged in Aug 2015, after 2 failed micro-discectomy's in my lower back and an L4/5 fusion.

After my first operation I was expected to make a full recovery and was awarded a Tier 12 payment of £10K from the AFCS. I was also expected to make a full recovery.

However, my condition deteriorated and I needed a second operation in 2013. My lower back was fused in Feb 2015 before I was medically discharged in the August. I have not been able to work since, yet as I was on the AFPS 1975, I qualified for my immediate pension which included a lump sum.

On discharge after almost 20 years I was given a tier 2 discharge; ‘for a breakdown in health which is not considered to leave you permanently incapable of gainful employment, although your employment prospects are deemed to be significantly impaired.’ However, my initial award was changed to an interim had as I was still ongoing treatment for the initial injury and I did NOT receive any further compensation from the AFCS on discharge.

Once discharged, my condition deteriorated and I damaged a further disc in my back in July 2016 (within 12 months) to which I informed the AFCS. Post discharge I had several spinal injections, physio appointments as well as visits to pain clinics and kept up my daily rehabilitation programme from Headly court. All of the above I promptly informed the AFCS as well as any other updated medical information.

In Jan 2017 they informed me that the original decision of the Tier 12 award of £10k was final. I appealed this and sent the AFCS a detailed account from my Army Medical records of all my injuries and medical appointments. I don't want to bore anyone but in a nut shell, its a fused spine, nerve damage in both legs causing weakness and numbness and a dropped foot. I struggle to walk and some days cannot get out of bed. I would appear that the AFCS did not even read my medical records before coming to this decision.

After 14 months I have just received confirmation that I am now going to a tribunal. In the letter, the justification is because I have no permanent significant functional limitations, despite receiving PIP and having a blue badge. Within my recent letter they don't acknowledge that I have a fused spine, incorrectly referred to the cause of my injury as 'lifting weights' and regarded myself being fit and active as a result of going to the gym to do my rehab.

I am at my limits with their incompetence, yet I still remain resilient and determined to seek justice for my injury as despite having a pension, this was acquired through service, thus earned.

I have 3 questions:

  • How long will until the tribunal?
  • Is it worth paying for a solicitor?
  • Does the Tier 2 only apply to the AFPS 05 as it categorises a tariff range of (7-11).

Thank you.
 
Dropped foot is a level 10 award alone. £27,000 and attracts a 25% GIP.

You need specific evidence of the injury and it’s limitation and that it was as a result of service.

Look at the tariff, pick the one that most reflects your injuries then go to your consultant, explain the situation, show him the tariff and ask him to write a letter to best reflect it.

If you really want to cover your bases ask him to recommend someone for an independent second opinion.

Other than that speak to one of the charities and keep bothering them until they help.

Good luck.

The Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2011
 
Thank you dingerr,

I will do this ASAP.

I am just infuriated by the lack of research that the AFCS has done in reference to my medical files as it is all documented in both my military and civvie docs. (Which I forwarded to the AFCS over 1 year ago).
 
It’s not for them to research, it’s for you to provide evidence. This may seem a little harsh, but it’s also fair.

Lose an arm or a leg, it’s easy to ascertain the injury, but when you’re talking about degrees of limitation it cannot always be evident from your med docs which will detail an injury, but not necessarily the limitation.

Your social worker at Headley should have helped you with your AFCS claim.
 
mrwatto
My situation is very similar, I've had a laminectomy, discectomy, interbody fusion etc. Originally I wasn't awarded anything and ended up at a Tribunal, which I won.

I was put on an interim award and ended with a Tarriff 9 (table 9 item 2A). I wasn't happy with that as it didn' reflect my condition I elected for a second Tribunal.

Whilst waiting for the Tribunal and now 5 years after surgery the hospital finally tell me I have non-union/Pseudoarthrosis (failed fusion) and epidural fibrosis (scar tissue in the spinal canal affecting the nerve roots). The Tribunal was put on hold whilst a had a Spinal Cord Stimulator fitted 4 weeks ago. There is a section under Neurological conditions that I'm perusing.
Sorry for the long post but hope it helps you in someway, if you think I can help then drop me a message.
 
ScrumV,

I feel your pain, especially with the time frame involved between point of injury to being awarded any sort of compensation (justice).

The medical evidence that I have provided to the AFCS over the past 5 years is substantial, and in a way I'm looking forward to my tribunal so that I can destroy them.

Within just my Army medical records there is solid evidence that supports a Tier 7 award, that i personally sent to the AFCS by both email and post. This is also re-enforced within my FMED 23 and civilian records:

Table 6-Neurological disorders, including spinal, head or brain injuries(*)
Item 21

'Traumatic spinal injury resulting in partial paresis of lower or upper limbs, or both, with substantial recovery, restoration of lower and upper limb motor and sensory function, including a useful ability to walk.'

Not to mention my drop foot, which I assume is a separate award.

Their incompetence has reached a whole new level as in their recent letter they state that my back injury was from 'lifting weights', that I have no evidence of permanent functional limitations or restrictions, (I must point out that that don't acknowledge my L4/5 spinal fusion, although this wording is mentioned in my FMED 23), and that because I conduct my rehabilitation programme at the gym most days, that I am an active man!

This is of course, after I highlighted the problems within the AFCS with my local MP, who then raised the issue at Parliamentary level. To my amazement the AFCS even got the facts wrong to the Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence. Therefore, when your dealing with this level of incompetence, I am not surprised by anything anymore.

I have applied for all my recent civilian medical records that will take approx 10-12 weeks and am currently seeking 2 independent consultants to conduct an assessment of my condition. This way, along with the rest of the substantial medical evidence I have the best chance of getting the award that reflects my injury.

However, there is still part of my that thinks that I should just give up as the AFCS incompetence is beyond comprehension.
 
Traumatic spinal injury

I looked at this, you might have trouble with traumatic.

I’m not against you, I’m playing devils advocate. If you can imagine every and any angle they will play you have more chance of countering against it.
 

BobbHope

War Hero
ScrumV,

However, there is still part of my that thinks that I should just give up as the AFCS incompetence is beyond comprehension.

Don't give up! You are right, the levels of incompetence from the AFCS sometimes appear to be deliberate. As they start from a default position of NO and delay and obfuscate in the hope, I believe, that people will just give up and go away or accept an award which is way below their entitlement due to weariness and the offer of some money.

Keep going, make sure you have all of the information you need organised and presented clearly, No one knows the circumstances better than you and if you think you can represent yourself objectively without getting emotional or personal then do so. The RBL have trained personnel who will happily represent you and can help tremendously with the appeals procedure but they are busy and don't necessarily understand your particular circumstances.

I'm not sure that a solicitor is worthwhile. There are negligence experts but that's not the same as AFCS claims. There's no such thing as no win, no fee, in this arena so you will be paying for someone who may know nothing.
 
Yes my case has been going on for 6 years and for the first 3 years it drove me mad as I let it consume everything, since then I've just forgot about it and only dealing with it when necessary.
The Tarriff in table 6 you mention is what I'm aiming for, I currently receive an award for "trauma" so just a case of proving the Paresis (weakness) and motor and sensory loss, which strangely enough is in the last 3 reports I've sent them.

Dinger is right they may well expect you to prove trauma, that said they still have to give you a Tarriff appropriate to your condition regardless of the cause. Off the top of my head the only option in Table 9 for "permanent severe funcional limitation" is item 2A (level 9 30%) if you was to receive a separate award for food drop (level 10 30%) you would be awarded only one GIP at 50% opening up AFIP etc.
I'm no expert and as mentioned the RBL have experts to guide with the best level to aim for.
 

conjurer

Old-Salt
You are aware that is the same lot he's fighting against :eek:

Yup. But rather than trying to second guess the review process, sit down with the forward case worker and they will assist you to collate your evidence. You don't have to follow all their advise BUT you will get an advocate who will assist you to the best of their ability. They understand the process YOU understand your current medical state.
 
Yup. But rather than trying to second guess the review process, sit down with the forward case worker and they will assist you to collate your evidence. You don't have to follow all their advise BUT you will get an advocate who will assist you to the best of their ability. They understand the process YOU understand your current medical state.
Having been through the process, appeals included, I'm one of those who understand the process as far as you can whilst the MoD refuse to publish their administration guidance as they once did.

Hence I call your post a total load of spheroids, I wouldn't trust them if they told me the sky was blue.
 
Yup. But rather than trying to second guess the review process, sit down with the forward case worker and they will assist you to collate your evidence. You don't have to follow all their advise BUT you will get an advocate who will assist you to the best of their ability. They understand the process YOU understand your current medical state.

There may also be an issue getting a case worker, support is limited especially if you have been out of the forces for a number of years.
 

BobbHope

War Hero
There may also be an issue getting a case worker, support is limited especially if you have been out of the forces for a number of years.

I don't know if @conjurer might be referring to Veterans U.K. welfare but my experience is that Veterans U.K. AFCS can help with advice on the procedures at times but not your evidence, at the end of the day they are the opposition, not the support.
 
Tribunal moving forward. (The response).

Ok, Yesterday I received my 'response' from the AFCS. To the best of my knowledge I will get a tribunal date within 4 months, with 14 days notice and at a regional location.

The response is all the evidence that the AFCS have used to justify their decision, and in my case is over 400 pages. This includes army medical records, most of the AFCS correspondence as well as letters from surgeons, physio's, doctors etc. However, this is very subjective at best, and often contradicts PAP 10 and AFCS legislation.

It would appear that the Senior Medical Assessor SMA ( a doctor in my case) makes a final decision based on a selective words from your most recent appointment. I'm my case, my neurosurgeon has stated that, 'I am fit and active' in a letter of recommendation for my next operation! As I am hopefully going to be considered for a spinal cord stimulator I meet all the requirements due to this.

FIT being healthy and ACTIVE-going to the gym to do my rehab most days. However, the SMA considers this wording to interpret a completely different conclusion - apparently I am fit and well and it is a mystery to why I am seeing a neurosurgeon to being with. This contradicts other correspondence were I am commended to my continued commitment to my personal rehabilitation, as well as the AFCS recommendations on how to manage chronic back pain within the response.

Having cross referenced the 'response' with my own army medical documents and my own correspondence files, I found certain emails and letters missing. In particular the letter where I highlight that as a Tier 2 discharge I should be on a tariff level between 7-11, and the letter I sent them highlighting all my medical verified neurological signs from within my army medical records. This medical evidence was available when I was medically discharged in 2015 and raises many questions.

Apart from being fit and active, the SMA's final decision was supported by the fact that I have no permanent functional limitations or restrictions. This contradicts my FMED 23, my spinal fusion, and my medically verified symptoms. I have evidence to support my nerve root damage that causes my problems in my legs. Yet, contrary to medical science the SMA has decided that this is not permanent. This is where the SMA's have a degree of subjectivity. I would like to know if they are bonus driven to not 'payout' in the same way as most civilian insurance companies are.

I have now requested my civilian medical documents to provide further evidence. This tends to take 8-10 weeks but my GP's receptionist have said that they will do the electronic files within 2 weeks. A formal letter requesting this and £10 is required.

Yet again the incompetence of the SMA and the AFCS in general does not surprise me. I am confident that I will get the award that reflects my condition at the tribunal and will continue to update this thread.

I honestly believe that this system is broken, that the AFCS purposely delay applications as long as possible to test the resilience of the applicant. I can only imagine how many veterans, especially those with mental health issues have just given up.

Once my tribunal is resolved, whatever the outcome I will campaign for change within the AFCS process as currently it is not working for veterans.
 
Last edited:
Regarding the missing correspondence, write to them soonest informing them of it and supply them with a copy. It should be added to the response. Ensure you ask that your representative is given a copy by veterans uk.

You could always ask (pay for) your consultant neurosurgeon to write a letter explaing exactly what he/she means by £fit and well" so the SMA at veterans uk doesn't missinterpret it :rolleyes:.
 
I had my tribunal in Aug 18 and have had two operations since. As I was still ongoing treatment (and always will) the AFCS descriptors could not be define my condition as permanent. To that end the panel decided to disregard all my treatment since my L4/5 Spinal fusion and finally acknowledged that the removal of vital body parts (Discs) and the implementation of metal work was actually permanent! This infuriated me as no new medical evidence was submitted for Vets UK to accept this decision. This was due to the original wording of my initial interim award of 'beyond 13 week.' This is a very vague descriptor as there is no cut off point.

Original Interim award Table 9 – 16a
'Traumatic back injury with one or more intervertebral disc prolapses or vertebral body or facet joint fractures which has required, or is expected to require, operative treatment and which has caused, or is expected to cause, significant functional limitation or restriction beyond 13 weeks.'

I was awarded the following after the tribunal (but not acknowledging any deterioration since):

Table 9
Item 2A Level 9 £40K lump sum and 30% GIP


‘Traumatic back injury resulting in vertebral or intervertebral disc damage and medically verified neurological signs, which has required, or is expected to require, operative treatment and which is expected to result in permanent significant functional limitation or restriction.’

Although not what I was hoping for, at least it was a small victory of an increment of £7 per week to my pension and £30k lump sum (-£10k already recieved).

I genuinely believed that my approach to this tribunal was air tight but as I've already mentioned, this wording of ' significant functional limitation or restriction beyond 13 weeks.' is so vague and in my case still relevant due to the way the descriptor is described.

Below is the foundations I laid out at my tribunal. I must point out that my RBL representative was useless but I had anticipated this and done the ground work for him.


Explain how fit robust and that had a promising career with potential to commission. Injured in Oct 2010 whilst re-suppling fobs and outpost with ECM as a CQMS. My run-out date was 11 December 2020, therefore I had 12 years left to achieve my maximum career potential.

My character

In December 2002 graded ‘A’ for physical robustness on SCBC.

In August 2005, Lt Colonel MR G****** MBE described Mr Watto as a ‘Fit and Robust individual with great determination to succeed and do well’.

From 2007-2008, LT Colonel MGC ******* described Mr Watto as a ‘star for the future’ and as ‘very talented’.

In Jan 2010, Lt Colonel BC F**** stated that he rated Mr Watto ‘extremely highly indeed – among the very top Sgt’s’.

In Jan 2011 Maj RB M***** described Mr Watto as ‘one of the fittest soldiers in the battalion’ and that ‘Watson has huge potential’.

Several recommendations for late entry (LE) commission throughout military reports.

Common trends, fit, robust and huge potential.


LOST MY SECURE JOB THAT I EXCELLED AT AND THE LEAVING WAGE OF £40k A YEAR. I haven’t worked since.

On discharge and my FMED 23 the medical board awarded a grade of P8 L8 MND


P8 definition as per PAP 2010.

‘Medically unfit for Service. The individual fulfils one or more of the following: - Unable to perform the individual’s primary employment/CEG with reasonable adaptation and restrictions. - Unable to attend work for 32.5 hours per week. - Employment would exacerbate the individual’s condition and have a significant effect on the individual’s health. - Unable to deploy, including on local exercises in any capacity.’


L8 definition as per PAP 2010.


Unable to pass a weapons handling test. Unable to wear full current in-Service operational body armour or the minimum theatre entry standard body armour.’


<https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436803/PAP_10.pdf> pp.107-108



Medical Discharge.

‘QRs Paragraph 9.387 ‘Ceasing to fulfil Army Medical Requirements, that is, Permanently Medically Unfit for any form of Army Service (now or in the future)’. This is the correct type of discharge in the grade P8 if the condition is permanent.’

<https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436803/PAP_10.pdf> p.117.


I was given a Tier 2 discharge



For a breakdown in health which is not considered to leave you permanently incapable of gainful employment, although your employment prospects are deemed to be significantly impaired.’


Defines as award levels between 7-11 under AFCS guidelines.


Therefore, why was this not the case with myself? With my level 12 award?


Appealing original finalised award in Dec 2016 (Awarded June 2012 £10,000)

Traumatic back injury with one or more intervertebral disc prolapses or vertebral body or facet joint fractures which has required, or is expected to require, operative treatment and which has caused, or is expected to cause, significant functional limitation or restriction beyond 13 weeks.



Paragraph 16 Injury benefit - general provisions

(1) Subject to articles 25 and 26

(a) benefit for injury is payable only in respect of an injury for which there is a descriptor;

(b) where an injury may be described by more than one descriptor, the descriptor is that which best describes the injury and its effects for which benefit has been claimed;

(c) more than one injury may be described by one descriptor


Table 6-Neurological disorders, including spinal, head or brain injuries

Item 21

Traumatic spinal injury resulting in partial paresis of lower or upper limbs, or both, with substantial recovery, restoration of lower and upper limb motor and sensory function, including a useful ability to walk.

Traumatic Spinal injury

Evidence:

1. 20/10/20110 referred to physio in Afghanistan after trauma to the spine after lifting ECM on a SH.

Partial Paresis of legs

Evidence:

1. Medical records on 04/07/2011, pain in left leg.

2. Medical records on 08/11/2011, weakness reported in leg after sitting.

3. Medical Records on 17/06/2013. Left leg symptoms persist, has developed right leg symptoms.

4. Medical records on 20/01/2014. Decreased sensation reported throughout left leg. Constant pain and twitching in left leg. Sensation generally reduced throughout leg.

5. Medical records on 14/07/2015. Reduced sensation in L lat calf.

6. Medical records on 09/07/2015. Paraesthesia in left leg.



With substantial recovery

Evidence:

1. Medical records on 20/10/2010. referred to physio.

2. Medical records on 21/03/2012. L4/5 decompression micro discectomy.

3. Medical records on 24/10/2013. Revised decompression and L4/5 micro discectomy.

4. Medical records on 04/11/2014. L4/5 Discography.

5. Medical records on 27/02/2015. L4/5 MDLIF Fusion.

6. Medical notes 24/01/2017. L5/S1 bilateral nerve root injections

Restoration of lower and upper limb motor and sensory function

Evidence:

1. Medical records on 10/06/2015. Evidence of working on left leg due to lack of strength.

2. Medical records on 26/05/2015. Walking plus 100m feels L leg drags and feels weaker. Occasional give way – feels it Is through fatigue.

3. Medical notes on 20/01/2014. Decreased sensation reported throughout left leg. Constant pain and twitching in left leg. Sensation generally reduced throughout leg.

4. Medical records on 09/11/2016. The physical assessment showed that I had poor function in my left foot.

5. Medical records on 24/03/2017. Referral letter to Mr Farah. No ankle reflexes bilaterally and is weak over the myotomes on the left side.


Including a useful ability to walk

Evidence:

1. FMED 23 on 19/08/2014. On a good day he can walk 100 metres but is fatigued, on a bad day he cannot get out of bed.

2. Medical records on 26/05/2015. Walking plus 100m feels L leg drags and feels weaker. Occasional give way – feels it I s through fatigue.

3. Medical records on 24/03/2017. Referral letter to Mr Farah. Legs giving way.

Foot Drop

Evidence:

1. FMED 23 on 19/08/2014. Legs become fatigued and his left foot trails on the ground.

2. FMED 7 on 05/05/2015. Left leg drags and feels weak.

3. Medical records on 09/11/2016. The physical assessment showed that I had poor function in my left foot.

4. Medical records on 24/03/2017. Referral letter to Mr Farah. No ankle reflexes bilaterally and is weak over the myotomes on the left side.



Explain operative treatment and how it has effective myself and family

Paragraph 5. Descriptor, further interpretative provisions

(1) Subject to article 25, a descriptor is to be construed as encompassing the expected effects of the primary injury and its appropriate clinical management, short of a discrete diagnosable disorder, including, but not limited to—

(a) pain and suffering due to the primary injury;

Constant chronic pain in back, buttocks and legs, legs constantly give way, sitting and standing difficult as is walking.

(b) the effect of operative intervention, including pain, discomfort and scarring;

Reduced mobility increases pain and stiffness due to spinal fusion.

(c) the effect of therapeutic drug treatment;

Drowsy, lack of motivation, constipated, work limitations,

(d) the use of appropriate aids and appliances;

Walking stick, heat packs, help getting up and at my very worse I can’t get out of bed. See PIP for evidence

(e) associated psychological effects short of a discrete diagnosable disorder.

Loss of confidence, reclusive, depression, PTSD. Don’t like using a stick, the strain AFCS has put on the whole family. Sex and relationship with my wife. Family dynamic in general.


Curious to why AFCS changed their justification for no further compensation after I produced my medical evidence; also why have they completely changed their justification having received so much medical evidence. . Highlight incompetence and the stress causes.

The process seems dishonest and extremely subjective.

Evidence: Sarah Parr

What now?

I genuinely believed that I had done enough to justify a Table 6, item 21 award, but the tribunal panel stated that there was not enough evidence to justify this award to the Secretary of State despite the way that I had broken down the descriptor.

'Traumatic spinal injury resulting in partial paresis of lower or upper limbs, or both, with substantial recovery, restoration of lower and upper limb motor and sensory function, including a useful ability to walk.'

Yet again, this was due to the initial award stating my recovery was beyond 13 weeks and that i was still having ongoing treatment? I have since had two back operations since including having a spinal cord stimulator fitted and will continue to pursue this with Vets UK through a 10 year exceptional review. I will now be paying for a solicitor to represent me. The award from my tribunal only increased my pension by £7 per week and that is not acceptable. The lump sum is irrelevant to me, its all about the pension. As I was on the AFPS 75 I recieved an immediate pension for my 19 years service.

Advice

I was poorly represented by the RBL and would recommend that you seek legal representation. Do not be put off by the delays and negative correspondence from Vets UK. Keep fighting for what you deserve. The system is broken, unjust and a disgrace but this is the process that you have to go through. Stay strong and don't give up.




 
The system is broken, unjust and a disgrace but this is the process that you have to go through. Stay strong and don't give up.

It’s subjective, just because you believe you were not treated fairly does not mean it is broken. It has worked fine for others.
 
Top